Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

SMEs to play salient role in Dubai economy, Sheikh Ahmed says

Emirate continues to harness power of digital age to promote economic growth

SMEs continue to be the backbone of the economy. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
SMEs continue to be the backbone of the economy. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), start-ups and ecommerce platforms will play a salient role in the economic growth of Dubai, said the chairman of Dubai’s Economic Development Committee.

“Without a doubt, SMEs are the main backbone of the economy and represent an important chunk of the GDP,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in an interview with The National. “We have our economic objectives for the year and we hope to achieve that as a result of the many ongoing initiatives in the country.”

Dubai has vied to cushion itself from global economy dips and energy dependency by diversifying economically and establishing itself as a logistics and travel hub. The emirates is home to Emirates, the largest long-haul airline, and has earmarked about $36 billion on the development of Al Maktoum International Airport, which in conjunction with Dubai International, already the busiest by international passengers, will serve more than 200 million passengers annually. The government is also estimated to spend about $7 billion on Expo2020 infrastructure related projects.

Sheikh Ahmed said he was bullish about the emirate’s economy based on strong economic fundamentals and the government’s proactive role of harnessing the power of the digital age by catering to entrepreneurs and start-ups through a supportive ecosystem.

“We’re optimistic,” said Sheikh Ahmed. “As Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai says pessimism only brings you back. The wheel has to continue turning and moving, otherwise one stagnates and the government of Dubai is proactive on many fronts.”

According to Dubai Startup Hub, which is a result of a partnership between the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and IBM there are 508 Dubai-based startups and eleven incubators in the emirate. The most notable of these have been Maktoob which was sold to Yahoo and most recently Souq.com that was acquired by Amazon.

“You see a lot of the [ecommerce and startups] company projects and this will contribute to the economic growth of Dubai and the country in a larger manner than previously,” he added.

The emirate’s economy is forecast to expand 3.6 per cent next year, from 3.1 per cent in 2017 and 2.9 per cent in 2016, as the emirate’s economic drivers shift from trade to real estate, manufacturing, and tourism, according to government estimates. Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade grew 2.7 per cent in the first quarter of the year to Dh327 billion from the year earlier period.

The emirate received 8 million overnight visitors in the first half of the year, a 10.6 per cent year-on-year increase. Dubai, which received about 15 million visitors last year and is targeting 20 million tourist arrivals annually by 2020, has been ranked one of the top three cities of the world that receive the most tourists in comparison to its population size.

Updated: July 30, 2017 10:29 PM